July 9 2015
Hydraulic fracturing uses a host of highly toxic chemicals — the impacts of which are for the most part unknown — that could be contaminating drinking water supplies, wildlife and crops, according to a report released Thursday by a California science panel.
The long-awaited final assessment from the California Council on Science and Technology said that because of data gaps and inadequate state testing, overwhelmed regulatory agencies do not have a complete picture of what oil companies are doing.
The risks and hazards associated with about two-thirds of the additives used in fracking are not clear, and the toxicity of more than half, the report concluded, remains “uninvestigated, unmeasured and unknown. Basic information about how these chemicals would move through the environment does not exist.”
Jane Long, the report's co-lead, said officials should fully understand the toxicity and environmental profiles of all chemicals before allowing them to be used in California's oil operations.
Recycled oil field wastewater used for crop irrigation may contain chemicals used during fracking and other well stimulation procedures, the report said. While treatment of that water is required, the testing is not adequate, the report said. Long said researchers did not find strong evidence of fracking fluids in irrigation water but added: “What we did find was that there was not any control in place to prevent it from happening.”